A lot is written about how job candidates should act to create that all-important positive first impression during an interview, especially that innovative technique that has swept the nation during the past 8 or 9 years: the panel interview where candidates get to sweat it out in front of a team of would-be co-workers.
A couple of recent incidents have me thinking that you employers need to polish up on your interview skills and think a bit more about how YOU are coming across to job candidates during that interview.
Conveying a Negative Attitude Toward Your Job and/or Company
Be positive about where you work and what you do.
Whether you are aware of it or not, a job candidate is sizing you up as much as you are him or her. The difference is that that candidate will be more likely to overlook warning signs just to get to the next level of the interview process or (the big prize) get that actual job offer. I have been interviewed by many people who drift off during the interview to talk about how glad they will be to retire and not have to see that place again or how overworked they are and don’t get to spend enough time with their children, and so on. Gee, sure sounds like a someone I’d enjoy working for… NOT! No matter how rotten your day, week, month, or year has been, it’s a personal thing and may or may not be the same experience for the job candidate. If you dislike the job that much, recuse yourself from the interview process or do your best to put a positive face on.
The couple who recently interviewed me had started the company; both said they had hoped to be retired by now, and when I showed up for work that first day they were no where to be seen even though they had said that Mondays were their busiest days. Really conveys a negative attitude toward their own company.
Seeming That a Decision Has Already Been Reached About the Job Candidate
Even if you favor one candidate by the time another one’s scheduled interview time arrives, give that interview your whole attention.
It can happen when you put out that job posting that you find the right candidate early in the process. But some of you are that shopper type. That is, even though you feel very positive toward that one candidate, you feel that meeting others is prudent, that either you will be wrong and one of them will be a better fit or meeting them will confirm your impression of the first candidate as that right one. Those additional candidates are putting on their best face for you and making a lot of effort in the vain hope of being given due consideration for the position. Quell that “gotta shop around” impulse and only call in candidates whom you think are a serious fit. And if you think you have met the right candidate, go for it!
I recently experienced this employer faux pas, too. It was very clear from the way the manager spoke with me and how brief and informal that time was that she was just putting me through the motions. (Sadly, she also obtained sensitive information about me, including references that she required, under what could be described as false pretenses. In an age when identity theft is rampant, such a practice is a serious matter. She says the info is locked in her office, but she had also said that several employees have access to that. Not good.)
The Leaderless Team Impression
Working in teams is a common thing, especially in larger companies. But every good team to be truly effective needs a good leader, one that can help them stay focused on their goals and the steps to achieve them.
A big issue I have seen come up as companies have turned to those panel-style interviews, is the team members where no one seems to be the leader, even the person with the title of Project Manager. It’s like a ship without a rudder. And for employees who are evaluated on results their team has achieved, this can be deadly since the team will be less likely to achieve anything, let alone the goals set for it. We all laugh at Dilbert and his “pointy haired boss” and how the boss has no concept of how to manage and overdoes it, but worse yet is the laid-back boss who leaves it to team members to figure out what to do and when.
Awhile back I had been part of a team that had a big job to do: upgrade computers throughout the company without disrupting business. We achieved that goal. And it was mainly due to a strong Project Manager. I have been on other teams where the manager was a “well what do you think?” type where he really meant “I don’t want to make a decision here.” I should have known this from the interview. He relied on others to give a thumbs up or down on me (with me in the room) before reaching a decision.
It Adds Up to…
You can end up hiring a candidate who has been given the impression that he/she can push you around or a candidate who will care about the job even less than you do or a candidate who sees right through your duplicitous nature (calling them in for an interview when you have already selected someone else). Hone your interview skills so you are conveying the right message. That way you can be sure you get the best candidate who will become a valuable part of your company and/or team.
© 2015 A.C. Cargill photos and text